Archive for the ‘Coordination’ Category

The far reaches of GoToGo

April 27, 2013

From Laura Staum Casasanto this morning:

Here is a sentence taken straight from an email about encouraging students to fill out course evaluations at Stony Brook:

[(1)] Did you know? Students can complete their evaluations on their mobile devices, and some instructors have found success with taking the first 10 minutes of class and ask their students to do the evaluations.

Wow, she said, and I concur. This is formally like classic GoToGo, but deviating from central examples in two respects. And it’s the second such example Laura has found.


Cambridge Rindge and Latin

April 25, 2013

In the news recently (thanks to the Boston Marathon bombing), the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (thanks to Dzhokhar Tsernaev’s having gone to high school there), with a name that strikes many non-locals as rather odd: Rindge and Latin, coordinated in the name, are indeed both nouns, but they aren’t semantically parallel: Rindge is a family name, Latin the name of a language. Things used to be worse.

And then there’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.


MLC in the news

August 23, 2012

A side-product of abortion in the news: many many cites like these two:

[coordination with and] Mr. Romney has said that abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest and when it would save the mother’s life. (Jim Rutenberg, “The Lowest Common Denominator and the 2012 Race for President”, NYT 8/17/12, p. A15)

[coordination with or] Generally, federal law prohibits federal funding for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. (Louise Radnofsky, “Remarks Put Spotlight on Definition of Rape”, WSJ online, 8/22/12, here)

These are routine examples of a construction type that has been disparaged as unacceptable — because of a failure of parallelism — by usage critics for at least a century; thanks to the work of Neal Whitman, it’s now known as multiple-level coordination (MLC).


On the NomConjObj watch

July 27, 2012

From Thomas Grano, my sometime companion in the world of nominative conjoined objects (NomConjObjs), this catch:

At the end of three weeks, I finally called the chair of the search committee and invited he and his wife to go out to dinner with us. [in “They’re here!”, 7/24/12 Chronicle of Higher Education blog post by Lesboprof, available here]

That’s a 3sg pronoun in the first conjunct, in a direct object that’s the notional subject of an infinitive — the first example with this combination of factors that I’ve seen.


Structural ambiguities

May 3, 2012

Two structural ambiguities collected today, both involving coordination. From Tim McDaniel in e-mail, an illustration of

Penguin Oil and Vinegar Cruets

And in the NYT editorial “A New View of the Aqueous Globe” this morning (relevant part boldfaced):

Instead of consulting captains and their logs, the makers of this moving map of the currents around the world from June 2005 through December 2007 used data obtained from satellites and sensors in the ocean.


Phonological resolution

March 20, 2012

From Bill Keller’s op-ed piece “Falling In and Out of War” in the NYT on 3/19/12:

(1) Policy makers should – and President Obama mostly hasput a premium on appraising alternatives to war.

A real-life example of a phenomenon discussed by Geoff Pullum and me in a 1986 article “Phonological resolution of syntactic feature conflict” (Language 62, on-line here): the verb form put (boldfaced above) serves simultaneously as two different inflectional forms of the lexeme PUT — as the BSE complement of the modal auxiliary should and as the PSP complement of the perfect auxiliary has. For almost all verb lexemes in English, these two forms are distinct (compare PLACE, with BSE place and PSP placed), so that the sort of reduced coordination in the Keller example apparently wouldn’t be possible, since there’s no available form that’s both BSE and PSP. For a fully parallel coordination, the distinct verb forms would have to be supplied:

(2) Policy makers should place – and President Obama mostly has placed – a premium on appraising alternatives to war.

But for about two dozen verb lexemes, of which PUT is one, the BSE and PSP happen to be phonologically identical, so that the conflict between the two feature values can be “phonologically resolved”, and the reduced coordination is (exceptionally) possible.


monkey grinder

March 4, 2012

(For National Grammar Day, and also Opal Eleanor Armstrong Zwicky’s 8th birthday.)

Mae Sander wrote a little while ago with a piece from the L.A. Times on snake charmers in India, which included this bit (with the crucial coordination boldfaced):

India had about 800,000 unlicensed snake charmers in 2007, according to a recent survey by the Snake Charmers Federation of India. Those now caught without a license face up to seven years in jail under Indian laws that aim to safeguard biodiversity by banning the possession, sale or trading of wild animals. Among the most affected, other than smugglers, have been traditional showmen: charmers, monkey grinders and trick-bear keepers.

Sander balked at monkey grinder instead of organ grinder ‘operator of a street organ (a.k.a. barrel organ or hurdy-gurdy)’. She suspected that the variant was an error induced by the fact that an organ grinders is often accompanied by a monkey. In any case, monkey grinder makes for an imperfect parallelism in the coordination in one sense (while improving parallelism in another).


Ben Gazzara

February 5, 2012

(Only a bit of linguistics in this.)

In yesterday’s news, the death of Ben Gazzara. From Matt Schudel’s obituary in the Washington Post:

Ben Gazzara, an actor with a quiet, brooding intensity who was featured in films and on Broadway and who starred in the 1960s television series “Run for Your Life,” [and much much more] died Feb. 3 in New York City. He was 81.

… Biagio Anthony Gazzara was born Aug. 28, 1930, in New York City. His parents were Sicilian immigrants, and he grew up speaking Italian.

“Immigrant Italians weren’t geared toward literature,” he said in 1998, “so movies were our novels, and I grew up on the best: Cagney, Bogart, Cary Grant, Gable, Wallace Beery — wonderful actors. Then when I was 12, I was in a play at the Boys Club, and once I heard the applause I was sold.”

… In his 2004 autobiography, “In the Moment,” Mr. Gazzara admitted to occasional problems with alcohol and depression and that he’d had affairs with many women, including actresses Audrey Hepburn, Eva Gabor and Elaine Stritch. [this in addition to three wives]


Object gap + subject gap

January 27, 2012

Caught in a radio news report this morning, this quote from Barack Obama, with the crucial bit boldfaced:

Obama said of a push for less financial regulation and lower taxes. “And why we would want to adopt something that we just tried and did not work, doesn’t make sense.”


This has a relative clause (that we just tried and did not work) in which a clause with an direct object gap (we just tried ___) is coordinated with a clause with a subject gap (___ did not work) [DO + SU]. As I noted in a Language Log posting on “Amazing conjunctions” back in 2005,

coordination of a clause with an object gap … and a clause with a subject gap … is usually judged ungrammatical, though there’s some question about what condition bars it.

In fact, a 1981 paper of Gerald Gazdar’s (“Unbounded dependencies and coordinate structure”, Linguistic Inquiry 12.155-84) treats such examples as ungrammatical and attempts to give an analysis that predicts that. But examples aren’t hard to find, in writing as well as speech; I myself seem to be given to writing relative clauses with this non-parallel structure.


Haefeli on NomConjObjs

August 21, 2011

I have it on display in my living room, but apparently I didn’t post it: William Haefeli’s New Yorker cartoon of 8/30/10 on between you and I:

(Most recent NomConjObj posting here; most informative one here.) As I’ve noted before, (just) between you and I has become a fixed expression for many people, including some who otherwise use NomConjObjs very sparingly.